"Hamlet" Essay

1468 words - 6 pages

In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the character of Hamlet is seen in many situations with changing evolutions of thought. The conscience plays a very important part in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and gives insight to actions and thought that take place within Act III scene I, which includes perhaps the most famous of all of Shakespeare’s soliloquies, Act V scene I, regarding Yorick and the grave yard, and lastly Act V scene II, which involves Claudius’s wager on Hamlet.The conscience is used in the play Hamlet for many important reasons. It is used to bring justice and to reveal failures and shortcomings. The fact that humans even have a conscience proves that they are doing something wrong. By definition, a conscience is the sense of rightness assuming there’s a wrong thing to do. The king is brought to justice by his conscience for doing the wrong thing. Hamlet says, “The play’s the thing /Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King” (II, ii). There is no problem in finding Claudius’s guilt, acting on this new found conviction, however, is tricky because Hamlet must justify killing him. His conscience is the battle between wills: God’s and Hamlet’s. This means Hamlet must consult his conscience before acting, and therein lays his genius. Most men, Claudius included, wait till sin until being accosted by conscience. He says after the mousetrap caught him, “My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer/Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?” (III, iii). So Shakespeare is describing here how humans must act, realizing we’re all flawed. He is saying that the conscience is the key before acting as justly as possible.Act III opens with Hamlet's soliloquy in which he metaphorically obsesses with a personal dilemma that ponders within his mind. The scene opens with the line, "To be or not to be..." (III.i). Not only is this one of the most famous lines in English literature but this is the first time the audience is exposed to Hamlet's subconscious side. It causes the audience to sense that there is something mysterious about the words that speak, almost as if there is something hidden within his words that never truly leave his mouth. The audience begins to get an impression that these things are going on within Hamlet's mind, but he can not think about them directly. With this famous line, Hamlet may be questioning something along the lines of, "Should I kill myself or not." In this soliloquy, Shakespeare strikes a chord with a fundamental human concern: the validity and worthiness of life. Would it not be easier for us to simply enter a never-ending sleep when we find ourselves facing the daunting problems of life than to "suffer / the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"(III.i)? However, it is perhaps because we do not know what this endless sleep entails that humans usually opt against suicide. "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have...

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